Monday, December 31, 2007

Romeo Still Makes Me Cry

Here I am alone on New Year's Eve... well, not exactly. True, Jim is out overnight at a party that I'd rather not be at... but Alex is here after all... with a fever... and a cold... and what appears to be pinkeye. This leads to opera, I promise...

So he hasn't napped for over a year, but today he took a 90 minute nap, then he asked to go to bed early. He woke up about an hour later and was pretty wide awake, so I sat him on my lap in front of the computer while I played Scrabble on Facebook (it's my other addiction!) and we listened to the Met's live broadcast of Romeo. Alex finally went to bed and I listened to the rest on headphones.

So I've heard this opera dozens of times... yet I still cry at the end.

Tonight Matthew Polenzani was Romeo. I've heard him dozens of times since he's Tamino on that ever-famous English Magic Flute Alex used to watch every day. He was fabulous tonight. What a beautiful voice, like flowing water.

I listed through the curtain call. Most of the cast was gone by then- only 4 or 5 came out for curtain calls. That's odd - I thought they all always did. I guess I was wrong.

I didn't get to hear Nathan Gunn's first aria because the laptop wasn't cooperating... grrr.... Even though I have three different recordings of it, it's just different when you know it's live. It's like watching gymnastics in the Olympics - there's that tension that anything can happen.

My online friend who likes Anna Netrebko flew to NYC from Barcelona to see the performance tonight. I'm sure he had a great time. I'm envious!

If only I had unlimited funds, I'd go to the opera all the time.

Happy New Year to all. It's 11:15 and I'm going to bed.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nathan Gunn and Scotch, perfect together!

Tonight at my brother-in-law's house, Alex announced that he wanted to listen to Nathan Gunn. Ok, so I put on Just Before Sunrise. I then wandered into the study to find Jim and his brother smelling an an open bottle of scotch. My brother-in-law has speakers in there so we could hear the music. I stuck my nose in for a sniff and thought it smelled nice, so I asked to try it. After 1 sip I said, "You know, this is PERFECT music to listen to while drinking scotch." They agreed and then my brother-in-law opened a cabinet and pulled out three other
bottles, and suddenly I was having a scotch-tasting. They were still working on giant glasses of wine so it was just me. At one point I asked for a cigar just to pose with for a picture... and my
brother-in-law stuck a golf magazine in my hand... and all the while we're listening to the CD. Every now and then one of us would exclaim, "Wow, this really IS great music to drink scotch to!" And no I didn't smoke the cigar!

By the way, the title of this post is a spoof of some old New Jersey slogan: New Jersey and You - Perfect Together.


Did you ever do something that you thought was a nice thing, only to have someone get mad? That's what happened to me recently.

When I was a super in Romeo last summer, I took photographs and a few 30 second videos at rehearsals. I posted them to Photobucket and told my contact at the office for the opera company about them. Actually if I recall I was given the ok to take the photos. She posted the links to the opera blog.

I was poking around my computer last week and found a few more that I hadn't previously posted. I uploaded one to photobucket and sent a message to the guy who played Romeo, to let him know they were there and to see if he wanted his own copy.

I got the following message from him yesterday:

When I first found out that there were videos on the web taken at rehearsals of R&J, I was mortified. You obviously don't realize how detrimental those types of things are to a performer. Those of us who sing for a living in major houses are constantly under watch to see where we as young singers are going vocally. The role of Romeo is a VERY big role and is a very difficult sing. That is why I chose to try it out in <>. It's a small company, very little exporsure and it was a safe place to try it out. When a video of a rehearsal surfaces, it gives those that judge and hire us a sneak peek in and they make their judgements based on a rehearsal, a place that is supposed to be "safe" as opposed to an actual performance when the performer can feel comfortable that all risks had already been taken in rehearsals. In rehearsals we can screw up and have a bad singing day and noone cares. No so if they are being recorded and put on the internet without our knowlege.

If an opera company takes any video or pictues during a rehearsal, they have to notify the singers and get their ok. Otherwise, they have a big lawsuit on their hands.

In the future, PLEASE don't record other performers in rehearsal unless they know about it and are ok with it.

No hard feelings, just thought you needed to know.

All my best and have a great Christmas!


Ok no hard feelings but you know what? I cried after reading that. Maybe I'm too sensitive, maybe I'm premenstrual, but I felt terrible. I obviously don't realize how detrimental these things are... Is it possible to write that to someone without it being mean?

Of course I deleted the entire Romeo folder from Photobucket and the few I had put up on Youtube. (They were marked private so they weren't out there for all to see.) I sent him a reply:

Wow, sorry, I had no idea. They're not on youtube or anywhere where anyone can find them... but of course I'll take them off photobucket.

Glad you're feeling better.


and a few minutes later...

Hi again, I deleted all the contents of the folder from my photobucket account, and there's nothing on youtube. I also deleted my comment on your home page that mentions the videos.

Again, I am so sorry - I feel terrible. I had no idea. I'm just mortified that something I did with good intentions could potentially harm your (or anyone's) career... I'm so sorry... and of course I'll never do it again!

Have a nice holiday.


Then I told Husband about it and mentioned that the promotions person had posted the links to those videos in the Official Opera Blog. He said that in his opinion, her doing so was essentially giving me permission to post them. He also pointed out that when "Romeo" signed the contract it probably said that the opera company can use photos and images... But I wasn't about to write a 3rd email to him. Perhaps if he replies... Which I doubt I will.

So much for being an opera fan - I thought I was doing something nice and instead apparently I was potentially harming his career. I mean that sort of for real and sort of sarcastically. I don't believe I have the power to affect his or anyone's career. If he's got the talent, a 30 second video isn't going to change someone's mind about him.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Did I Mention that I Love the Internet?

Turns out one of my online opera friends has access to many many opera recordings... I now have Nathan Gunn as Figaro in San Francisco Opera's Babiere, The Met's Die Zauberflote with Nathan as Papageno and I'm in the process of obtaining one of 3 different dates of the Met's Barbiere with Juan Diego Florez!!! I also have the info to get a video of Billy Budd with Nathan as some other, smaller part, but I don't think I like the opera enough to take the time to download it.

Gracias a mi amigo que tiene la llave a todas las grabaciones!

Debo escribir en espanol de vez un cuando. Por que no? Si la gente que leen mi blog no entienden, no me importa. Yo se que hay mucha gente en el mundo que si, entienden espanol.
Pero como puedo poner acentos y tildes? No se parece en el keyboard y no se como ponerlos. Pero esto no tiene nada que ver con opera, por eso...

Maintenent, en francais. No... je ne raconte rien... il y a boucoup d'ans... and I'm sure I'm spelling it all wrong...

Ma, italiano? Io parlo? No, non parlo italiano. Mais je desire estudiarla. Ha ha una mezcla.

Ok all this talk of opera is keeping me up waaaay past my bedtime. So what else is new?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Advice Worked!

So after cancellations for various reasons, I had my first voice lesson today since December 1st. I kept that advice mind that Nathan Gunn talked about in his podcast, the advice from one of his teachers to "just sing" and not worry about how you sound or what anyone thinks... so I kept that in mind today and it really made a difference! It helped me to relax and I was able to get all the way to a high C during warm ups and you know what? I didn't sound bad! Now that I know I can do it, my next step is to be able to hit it for longer than just a second at the top of a vocal exercise.

On an unrelated note, my "opera source" hooked me up with recordings of Barbiere in San Francisco with Nathan as Figaro, and Die Zauberflote at the Met with him as Papageno. Hooray for the internet!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Right. Am I 14 or 40?

I seriously have a crush on an opera singer. What the heck?

Thank goodness for YouTube. It's like MTV On Demand!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Kindness of More Strangers

I love the internet.

A fan of Anna Netrebko read my review of her fabulous performance last Wednesday and commented on my blog. We began emailing back and forth. He has a subscription to Sirius Radio and has recordings of the 12/12 and 12/15 broadcasts. He uploaded them to a file sharing site and explained how to download them. So I know have the full operas from both days! Denise sure was surprised when I handed her a copy on CD the other day. I've offered to send him my copy of Opera News with Anna on the cover but haven't heard back.

I love the internet.

In the comments section of a Juan Diego Florez video on YouTube people were writing that they were going to see him in Fille Du Regiment at the Met. I chimed in and it turns out I'm going the same day as someone else who posted. We began corresponding and it turns out we have a LOT in common - it's sort of scary. First off, not only are we going to the same performance, we're sitting 10 seats away from each other in the same row. We both used to teach ESL and now do something else. She taught a TOEFL prep course and I work at ETS writing, reviewing and editing portions of the TOEFL. We have the same favorite authors, books and movies. She's a little younger than me. It's like we fit some demographic for the young opera fan.

I corresponded a little with another YouTuber after reading her comments for a Nathan Gunn video. I've also corresponded a little bit with other Juan Diego Florez fans.

The internet has made the world smaller. I love it. Husband and I each just got an iPhone, which includes a cell phone, internet access, weather, email, YouTube, iTunes, traffic reports, maps, an iPod and many other features. My son will grow up in a completely different world than I did. It's like the people who grew up before TV... we can't imagine life without it, even when we don't have one in the house. He won't be able to imagine life without the internet.

One more tidbit. I have a tracker on my Myspace page. On Dec 12, the day I went to the Met, someone at the Metropolitan Opera viewed my Myspace page:
Location Access Organization

New York, US
12/12 10:22:26 AM
Metropolitan Opera Private Private

At first I didn't see that it was AM because it was on the next line, and I thought, holy ***! who at the Met looked at my MySpace page during INTERMISSION????? Then I saw it was the morning... so someone was probably at NG's page and clicked onto mine. Oh well, there goes that random thought that I won't even put here. Ok, so I'll concede... he probably didn't actually make eye contact with me during the curtain call, although he did scan the balcony.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Romeo AGAIN!

Off to the movies today to see the encore of yesterday's live HD transmission from the Met! Listened to most of it at Mark and Kara's house yesterday.

Quick story - Kara hired Ella's Music Together teacher to do a sample class during the party yesterday. It was nothing compared to Alex's class at Westminster Conservatory. Alex left after 10 minutes and went upstairs. I followed and was listening to the broadcast while Jim took Alex to the bathroom... then he told Jim that he doesn't want to go back downstairs, he wants to stay upstairs and listen to the opera. That's my boy!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ok, where was I? Men in tights... more

So let's talk about the costumes. The Capulets were all in red, the Montagues in some version of blue. Romeo, as I mentioned before, was in these skin-tight aqua pants with matching boots. Mercutio was in turquoise tights with some kind of skirty jacket thing. Juliet wore beautiful gowns of course.

More about Nathan's performance... if I didn't already write this before... He was totally into it, like he BECAME a teenager out for a rumble. With his flouncy shirt and his hair flopping in his face... well the word rakish comes to mind. The fight scene was awesome. Interestingly, all the other men came out for that scene with their shirts buttoned up, but his was halfway open and opened even more during the scene. Then after Mercutio was stabbed, it crossed my mind that I was in the same room as Nathan Gunn, and he was laying sweaty on the floor with his shirt half off. It was a very big room... but lest I digress into more behavior more fitting for a 16 year old than a 40 year old...

One more point before I go to bed.

During some of the interludes they projected an image onto the curtain with some Latin words on it. Well, Denise majored in Latin at Princeton (wow) and Stan has studied it. With his binoculars he was able to read it. The top part was something used as filler for when they want to use up space - sort of a nonsense phrase. The part around the bottom said something silly, which of course I don't recall right now because they were talking about it in the limo ride home and I was concentrating on not getting car sick (I failed). But it was obviously some sort of inside joke by whoever made the image. I'll find out what it said and will post it eventually.

Ok now off to bed. More to come in dribs and drabs.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More on those Men in Tights...

Here we are at Part 2 of ? of my ramblings about last night.

Let's talk about the stage.

Did I mention the celestial theme? Ok so the stage had this raised circular dais and THAT had a circular inset that rotated and ramped in any direction. It was cool b/c at some points it would slowly rotate, or else it would ramp up, and they changed it for different scenes. Ok so on this they'd sometimes project a circular map of the stars, I'm sure it has a name, and it would slowly rotate. They also had that against the back wall at some points. Above the stage they had an orrery, which is a model that shows the planets in the solar system in their relative positions as they move. I couldn't really see it except when part of it dipped below the curtain swag thing, but you could see the shadows on the stage as the planets moved. The shadows included not just the planets but the bars attaching them to the device. They also had clockworks, I think near the end, in one corner, also in a circular piece.

Agh must go to bed... will continue... tomorrow.

Enchanted Evening, Men in Tights

*Sigh.* What a fabulous time I had yesterday! Where to begin, where to begin... I know anyone who's reading (and at least one person does b/c he or she posted a comment asking how it was) will want to know about the opera itself, but patience, reader(s), patience.

I took the train from Hamilton at 3:11. Denise, Stan and Kevin got on at New Brunswick at about 3:30 and I wandered through the cars looking for them. Not too fond of going in between the cars while the train is moving! But I found them and it was fun to all sit together for the ride. At Penn Station, Kevin and I decided to walk while Denise and Stan were going to take a cab. It was cold but I'm so glad I walked! I experienced sensory overload within 10 minutes. So many people, so many lights, constant noise, it was amazing! It'd been a long time since I'd been to NYC but it doesn't seem to have changed much!

When we got to Lincoln Center we found Denise et al in the Met Lobby. They got there about 10 minutes before we did. We went to the shop and fiddled about until dinner.

Dinner was at the Grand Tier, the restaurant at the Met. Very fu-fu (or is that, fru-fru?) and very yummy. And, of course, very expensive, but well worth it. I had the duck breast with some kind of fancy delicious sauce, parsnip gratin, huckleberrys and mashed butternut squash. Denise and I shared a dessert of a mixed cookie plate - simply divine.

Our seats were in the balcony and I had to do a mad dash up two flights of stairs after using the bathroom on the grand tier level, where the 5 minute warning bell went off while I was still on line! But I made it...

Ok, ok, on to the opera itself!

It. Was. Fabulous.

The music, the costumes, the stage, oh and did I mention the singing?

Anna Netrebko was absolutely stunning. When she first began to sing it brought tears to my eyes and I realized what it must have been like for my grandfather back in Kiev over 100 years ago when he snuck into the opera house there. She was perfect. At times I thought I was listening to a recording, then I had to remind myself that no, she's right there, doing this right now, live. She was the perfect Juliette, one I believe will be used as an example for anyone else who plays the role. Roberto Alagna was Romeo. I thought he'd be too old but he must be a good actor - he convinced me that he was a teenager in love! They were great together.

Nathan Gunn was great, as usual, although sometimes a bit too quiet. In my opinion the audience did not cheer enough after Mercutio's aria, but I think they were saving all their energies for Alagna and Netrebko. The fight scene was awesome! I couldn't decide if I should use the binoculars or watch the whole thing. I went with the binocs and had a great view of all the perfectly choreographed moves. I was hoping for fake blood but I guess that would be too messy.

After the intermission, which I spent on line for the ladies room, the scene opened to the famous floating bed. There was much more of Alagna than I ever wanted to see, and believe me I had already seen enough with those sea-green skin-tight disco pants he wore - they left nothing to the imagination, and I didn't want to imagine in the first place... but here we are in the bedroom, they're crawling all over each other half-dressed on this elevated bed and singing at the same time! It was amazing. It felt vaguely peeping-tomish to use the binoculars!

I still need to talk about the stage, the costumes, the lighting, the rest of the opera, the curtain call... all in due time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Romeo Tomorrow!

Well it seemed like it would never get here, and now, tomorrow is Romeo at the Met. I have my outfit figured out (except for the earrings, go figure) and the travel and dinner arrangements are made. The ticket is in my wallet and my purse is planned and put together with what I'll need. So now, ironically, given the name of my blog, I'm wondering how I'm going to manage to stay awake! I'm too tired to be excited. Hopefully tomorrow the opposite will be true.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Less than a week...

...until Romeo at the Met! I will, of course, post my impressions of the evening, no doubt starting with the train ride into the city! We have reservations at the swank restaurant at the Met, The Grand Tier, at 6, and the opera starts at 8. Denise hired a limo to take us all directly to our homes afterwards. It's going to be an expensive night but well worth it! There are 6 or 7 of us total. I only know 2 of them so it should be interesting!

Voice lessons are going along swimmingly. I'm working on mastering the ornamentation in Star Vicino. I can actually listen to the recordings of the lessons without cringing! Still waiting for the vestiges of this sore throat to go away before I make another embarrassing web cam recording to post here. Just listened to the one I put in my previous post... Argh how screechy. But I'm leaving it there because as far as I know, pretty much no one reads this but me, and if anyone does see it, well, who cares?

I was listening to the podcasts on Nathan Gunn's website the other day. It's him talking about Just Before Sunrise and also about his own history with music. He mentioned something that one of his teachers told him - you just gotta let go and sing and not worry about what anyone else is thinking. I do that with so many other aspects of my life, so I'm going to try to apply that to singing. I already do that when I sing alone in the car... don't we all?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Effects of Laryngitis

Just goofing off with the new webcam, singing along to videos on YouTube. Here's one from yesterday... a few bad notes but overall better than before the lessons... especially with the yucky sore throat... I used to think this entire song was too high for me... So this was just before the laryngitis set in...
What's embarrassing is that the words are right there on the screen and I still forgot them and mixed them up with another English version of this duet I know... oops... and I sort of lose it after the 1st half... but I'll put myself out there and post it anyway.

I made another one today... I was going to post it but it's mostly me singing poorly, swallowing and cringing and clutching at my throat!

Ok I'll be quiet now...

Once my voice is back I'll do another. I promise.

Recurring theme: Alone to the Opera!

You know, you only live once and who knows what could happen tomorrow. We all know people who wake up feeling fine and suffer a tragic accident or are diagnosed with a fatal illness... so not to be morbid... ok it's too late for that... but anyway... keeping that in mind...

I'm still kicking myself for not seeing Juan Diego Florez in Miami when I went to Florida last month. I came home the morning of his performance. I knew he was going to be there but forgot all about it when I booked the flight. So... Yeah I know I'm going to see him in Chicago in March... but he's also going to be in La Fille du Regiment at the Met in April and May. Almost all the shows are sold out. Just for fun I was poking around on the Met's website and found a few tickets availalbe for some of the shows. I almost got a ticket for May 12 and realized in time that he won't be in that particular performance! Whew! So I found a single ticket in the second to last row of the orchestra for Friday, May 2nd, and I thought, what the heck. I asked a couple of people if they wanted to go and of course they didn't, so once again I'm on my own. I'm going to the Met on a Friday night! In May! By myself! I look at it like, I probably got a better seat (2nd to last row???) than if I tried to find two seats together. The great thing about going alone is, I can do what I want when I want. I can wait at the stage door afterwards (with who knows how many others...) or not. I know I'll probably do that in Chicago, unless the weather is horrible. Three winters in Minnesota has prepared me for just about anything though... So once again the question is... what to wear? I guess I have time to decide... and two operas to attend before then!

On a totally different note, so to speak, I've had a nasty throat virus the past three weeks. Today I woke up with laryngitis. It hurts to talk... forget about singing. I sing all the time... it was hard today not to ... then I'd grab my throat and croak to a halt. My next voice lesson isn't until Saturday, Dec 1st so hopefully my throat will have healed by then.

Here are some fun videos I've been singing along to with Alex. I can't decide if I love the bananas in this first one, or if they frighten me...


and an earlier version:

Which version do you like better? I can't decide, though I'm leaning towards Madelyn Kahn and Grover...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Getting Better All the Time

The singing lessons continue. I can definitely hear an improvement!! Both Jim and my teacher say that I sang well before and now I'm better. I can hear it sometimes.

It's funny but my favorite thing so far are the warm-ups! I can sing warm-ups all day. Although singing songs is fun too. I've started a standard Italian piece called "Star Vicino."

A couple of weeks ago I was with some friends and one of them was trying to remember a song. I thought I knew what it was and sang a line or two. She said, "Wow! You have a really nice voice!" and then, "Oh but wait, you sing opera." I thanked her and said, "Uh, no, I don't sing opera except alone in the car when no one else can hear me! I listen to opera... "

Speaking of that... yesterday Alex and I went to see the Opera New Jersey - Young Artist Program performance at an assisted living center in Jamesburg. I think we were the only non-seniors there who didn't work for the facility or the opera. We stayed for most of it, until Alex got restless. It didn't help that these two women in our row of seats kept showing him silly key chains and making funny faces with him.

Romeo at the Met: December 12.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Never as Bad as You Think

My teacher and and one of my opera friends from this summer both assured me that it's normal to hate how you sound on tape. My teacher told me not to listen to it critically, rather, use it to remind myself of the exercises when I'm home. I kept that in mind and it really did help. And I can hear myself improving. My teacher says she can hear it too.

Let's step back here a moment. My friend who reassured me that it's normal asked about my teacher - he said there are a lot of "fake" teachers out there who will tell the students whatever they think the students want to hear. So...

My voice lessons are through Westminster Conservatory. It's the public music school associated with Westminster Choir College. My teacher was an opera singer with the Baltimore Opera Company. She's an excellent teacher. She teaches Early Childhood music classes with Westminster and was Alex's teacher for a year and a half. She has shown me all sorts of techniques and she's got the whole psychology side of it under control. She knows what to say to give me confidence, etc. So I do not believe she's "fake."

That said... I forgot what else I was going to write!

I've been in Florida since Sunday, just got back today. My next lesson is tomorrow and I haven't been able to practice. There's always tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I listened to the tape from last week's voice lesson. Or, I should say, I tried to listen. I couldn't. I sounded so awful I was ready to follow the tape out the window after I threw it. Only I didn't throw it. But I wanted to.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shaaaa Faaaa Moooo

Had my first voice lesson last week. It was so much fun! There were points where I dissolved into hysterical giggles over some of the stuff she had me doing - most of it sounded like someone was having wild sex - I kept thinking of that scene in Porky's, "Why do they call her Lassie?"
But I think I did well - I was able to repeat back everything she sang or played. I learned about breathing and posture and I have homework for next class.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oh no!

Today I found out that Nathan Gunn has pulled out of Romeo for the first 5 peformances due to illness. I've got certain connections on the investigation for me to find out what's going on, if he's ok, etc. Laryngitis most likely but who knows? He probably already had an inkling when he replied to my email last week about his website. Poor guy - really - besides breaking a contract and losing out on the salary, he's probably incredibly disappointed, as are his fans. I can't imagine how I'd feel in that situation - guilty, disappointed, sad, angry... Plus his website is a mess right now...

Luckily as of now he's still scheduled to be in it on the day I'm going. The Romeo lead also pulled out for a different illness.

I know it's selfish but I sure hope I don't fly all the way to Chicago to see him and JDF only to have one or both be sick. That would stink. (I'd use stronger language but I'm trying to keep it professional, heh heh.)

Bedtime once again.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Preparing for Next Summer

NJ Opera is doing three operas again next summer: Candide, La Cenerentola and... OK I can't remember the third. La Boheme maybe?Anyway I remember Mike, the super captain, saying that they will need supers. Don't know which operas or what they'll need... but anyway I figure since I'll probably be in at least one, I should learn them beforehand. I don't need to, obviously, but I think R&J would have been more interesting had I been familiar with it instead of hearing it for the first time out of order in bits and pieces.

Naturally I'm starting with Rossini, La Cenerentola. It's fun! Here's a clip from YouTube:

Oh what a surprise, Juan Diego Florez is in it.

That's all for tonight.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just In Time!

Met tickets went on sale yesterday. Denise was planning on going to the box office to get some but didn't get around to it. This morning I checked and the Dec 12 R&J was almost sold out! The section we wanted was and the best available was the balcony. So she called. The woman on the phone at first told her that they didn't have 5 seats together. Denise asked her in the most desperate way if there was any way at all to get 5 together, and the woman suddenly found some! We're in the center section but all the way off to one side, three seats in row F and 2 in row E. Or is that three in E and two in F? They're right behind each other which is better than 5 in a row. I'm looking forward to it! Just have to figure out what to wear!! It'll be interesting to compare the Met's production with this summer's.

On another note, I heard back from Manon after I removed the R&J videos from YouTube:

Don't worry, I am not upset at all. I appreciated the initiative. It is very nice of you to understand my situation.
merci beaucoup,

And now before opera keeps me awake again, I'm off to bed, early for a change.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What To Make of This...

A few weeks ago, after much deliberation, I posted onto YouTube a few of my personal favorites from the videos I took of R&J rehearsals. They're each 30 seconds long and I think I posted 5. So today at my YouTube account I had the following message in my inbox:

It is Manon Strauss Evrard. Thank you for putting up some videos.They are very interesting but I would rather not have them on the internet. I am not a hundred per cent satisfied by the performance. I would really appreciate if they could be taken off youtube.



So I went in and made them private, and sent a reply that of course I'd remove them and that I'm sorry if they bothered her, blah blah blah. But the whole time I was thinking, I took the videos and they're mine to post as I want. She'd probably never be satisfied with the performance because people always see what they perceive as wrong. On the other hand, she did ask very nicely, which is why I changed them to private. That's as good as taking them down since I have to specifically allow people to view them. I also went and removed the video I posted to the Summerfest page on Facebook. I'm not removing the videos from Photobucket since, although they're public, there are no tags and I don't think people cruise around Photobucket looking for videos. I'm pretty sure she doesn't know it was me because she didn't use my name in the message. Not that it matters.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What Justifies What? Chicken vs Egg

I'm excited about going to Chicago even though it's like 6 months from now. Yeah, for the opera, but also because I'm really looking forward to just getting away from real life for a few days. It'll be a mini-adventure and a mini-escape. Maybe I'm having a mid-life crisis or something! But really, I'm looking forward to doing something on my own. I'll eat where and when I want, sleep diagonally on the bed and Alex won't be climbing over me at 3am or whenever. Of course I'll probably need benadryl or something to get to sleep! But like I wrote on my MySpace page, it may seem strange to travel all that way just for an opera, but really what I needed was an adventure, and Barbiere with JDF and NG together not only gave me the excuse, it also helped me choose a location. Otherwise I don't think a March jaunt to Chicago would be my first choice of a "me" trip! And since Auntie Cyd left us each a healthy chunk of change, I don't even feel guilty about the cost.

Speaking of cost... I'm pretty sure I'm still going to Romeo at the Met in December. More on that later this week when individual tickets go on sale. Which reminds me... I was laughing because in that little MySpace email exchange I had with Nathan, I had mentioned that I might be going to Romeo, and he replied with the stock, polite answer, "Hope to see you there" or something similar. Yeah well OK if you grab a spotlight and shine it up into the balcony and then pull out your binocs (opera glasses?!) and squint through them, you might just see me there. But I doubt it. The Lyric, on the other hand... if I had taken the 2nd row ticket, definitely. In the 14th row... maybe, but probably not. If I wait by the stage door after the show, probably. Will I do that? Probably not. Oh who the hell knows. (and I know that whoever is reading this is probably also thinking, who cares...) Gotta go to bed. Once again, opera and its peripherals are keeping me awake.

Friday, August 10, 2007

R&J Tears

I’m here at work listening to (and sort of watching, in a small window) a movie version of Romeo et Juliette that Denise loaned me. It stars Roberta Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu. I find myself mouthing the words along, and I didn’t even realize I knew them! Listening to this professional recording makes me realize how talented the NJO singers are. Manon especially. She could’ve been in this movie.

I may have to stop listening. It’s so beautiful and tragic that it’s bringing tears to my eyes. Part of that might be nostalgia for the summer…

Monday, August 6, 2007

Road Trip! (ok, Air Trip)

I'm going to Chicago, I'm going to Chicago! (sing it)

I called the Lyric on Aug 1st after many frustrating attempts at purchasing a ticket online. They offered two different seats - 2nd row center (!) and 14th row but slightly to the right of center. I thought about it and decided to go with the 14th row so I wouldn't get a neck strain (or get spat on! Blech). I got pretty good airfare from Newark to Chicago and an excellent rate at a nearby hotel. Three of my online friends from Connected Moms live there. I've known them all for over 4 years! I'm definitely meeting one and hopefully the other two also.

Let's see...

I left off some fun info from my previous post. Just silly stuff, really. Silly, giggly stuff to liven up the sometimes boring life of a mom and housewife. Remember the 29 year old boy who shamelessly flirted with me? (and anything else on two legs, but I don't care about them!) Anyway at the Sunday farewell party, he left early because his "ride" was leaving. Then he pulled me aside and said he was leaving b/c there was a good chance he was going to hook up with her that evening. THEN he said, "You know, Susan, it would have been you if you weren't married." Empty promises when there's no chance, right? I replied, "Oh yeah, I know." As if. Well maybe, in a different world where I'm single and 10 years younger!

Ok, here's the fun stuff.
Elizabeth F in Seattle is on my friends list on MySpace. I was looking at her page and saw a new friend - "Nathan." So I went to his homepage and sent him a little message, dropping Ricardo's name. Today I got a very nice reply!

I love the Internet.

Thank goodness it didn't exist when I was a teenager. Lord knows what kind of trouble I would've gotten into. Not that I needed the Internet to get me into trouble... But now I can do it all in the comfort of my desk chair. But I digress. This post is not so much about opera as it is about opera people. And ... I'd rather be sleeping so I'll sign off.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Endings and Beginnings

The days are just packed. Packed I tell you!

Friday I brought Alex to the ice-cream social. He was shy at first but after running around a tree five hundred times he finally warmed up. He even spontaneously broke into song, causing the artistic director of the opera to turn his head! He also told a bunch of people that he wants to be an opera singer, and just like in the video here, launched into Pa pa pa.

Saturday Jim and I went to see Die Zauberflote. It was great. The three ladies had matching sidekicks - "ladies in waiting." The girls had matching costumes with their lady - it was really cool. Papageno was hysterical - really really funny. He entered from the house and sang his first aria from the aisle. He couldn't see the conductor and he kept losing his place with the music. Otherwise he was great. Everyone was. The three spirit boys were played by three women from the chorus. They wore these Harpo Marx wigs and white or grey pajama-like outfits that I later heard were ordered from a clothing catalogue for gay men. Hmm. Pamina was great. I actually got a little weepy when she was singing to Tamino and he was keeping his vow of silence.

Then that night was the final Romeo. It was fun! We did our bit and then hung out in the green room. I brought a bunch of old Opera News magazines and a few bags of gummy worms. And those gummy worms were a hit! If I had thrown them to the floor I think people would've dove for them. And once again we had our hoods down for the curtain call.

This evening one of the guys who lives locally had a party at his house. It was the first time I really interacted socially with a bunch of the chorus, and it made me sad that I didn't have the opportunity to earlier. The artistic director told me that his favorite part of the Romeo curtain call was my hair. I'm glad it made an impact! I may have written this before, but I wonder if the audience realized that many of the monks were women!

I became friendly with one of the guys in the chorus and listen to this - he took the toefl a few months ago so I asked him if he remembered any of the listening comp sets he had. He described one to me and I totally knew it because I had worked on it! That was pretty funny. He was just shocked when I cut him off and told him what the rest of the conversation was about! I also learned that he is a student of Nathan Gunn. He said he's taking one of his classes in the fall and will tell him that he met one of his fans in NJ. Whatever...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My (biased) Review of the Scenes Concert

I wrote this as if I were writing a review, sort of. Here it is:

When I learned that there were comp tickets available for Mischief, Merriment & Mayhem, my first thought was, Oh well, I have a massage scheduled for that night. A moment later I said to myself, What, are you nuts? Reschedule the massage and go to the concert! And I'm so glad I did! The singing and acting was wonderful!

The show opened with a cute scene from Il Matrimonio Segreto. Two sisters were arguing over (uh… I don't remember what, probably a man) and their aunt was trying to keep the peace. It was so cute! The sisters kept bickering and the aunt, finding herself exasperated, sank to her knees to meditate in an effort to keep calm. The scene culminated with the sisters belly-whopping (is that what it's called?) each other and running off. Wonderful singing, wonderful acting. Plus they were wearing these great, shiny, colorful satin robes.

Next was a beautiful Mozart aria from La Clemenza di Tito sung by tenor John Viscardi. It's hard to find words to describe the beauty of his voice. Clear and bright, full of feeling… just lovely.

On to spookiness- Le Contes d'Hoffman – This was just wonderful. The lighting made huge shadows behind the singers – it was really creepy! Paola Gonzalez was fabulous as the dying Antonia. And Jenni Bank sat so still it was suprising when she began to move and sing. Ricardo Sepulveda was perfectly evil. Very entertaining!

Back to silliness – Rossini of course! People dressing in disguise trying to fool each other. The scene was from Le Comte Ory. It was hilarious. I love how the nun entered the scene from the audience. The three singers had great comic timing. This was just wonderful. The expressions on Kala's face were just priceless!

Then we were treated to the popular "La Donna e Mobile," sung by tenor Patrick Layton. His facial expressions and gestures added just the right touch to his performance.

The caption on the dress rehearsal photo said he was singing A Mes Amis. I wish I could have heard him sing that! Maybe I'll find him in the green room during Saturday's Romeo performance and make a request.

Next: Mozart. Don Giovanni. Need I say more? Well I will! WOW. Mozart is the master of everyone singing different things at once, and the group on stage pulled it off with ease. It was awesome.

Then we were brought back to Rossini, this time, La Cenerentola. Cinderella. She's so good to forgive all the people who were mean to her. Sara Fanucchi made Rossini's crazy coloraturas sound so easy. The choreography was great. I found it interesting that the music for this aria is the same as "Cessa di piu resistere" from the end of Barbiere.

After a short intermission, the show continued with what I believe was the highlight of the night: Zulimar Lopez. Wow. WOW! WOW! 'nuff said. I'm glad she didn't trip over the fallen barrette.

After recovering from Ms. Lopez's stunning performance, we were treated to another Mozart piece – one of my favorite arias from one of my favorite operas, La Nozze di Figaro. I don't recall the name of the aria. (I can still love it without knowing the name, right?) Ah the Count. Ah baritones. Love Rob's voice.

Ok then it was back to the master of silliness, Rossini, with something from L'italiana in Algeri. This was hysterical! The choreography was fabulous. Everyone had such great looks on their faces and excellent comic timing.

Next we were treated to a lovely Donizetti aria by Gabriel Gunsberg.

The show culminated with an entertaining trio from, you guessed it, Rossini. This time it was Guillame Tell. I got distracted part way through this one because I thought I heard someone's cell phone vibrating behind me. I peeked back and saw that an audience member had dozed off and was snoring! How???

So maybe I'm biased since I've seen all these singers perform over the past few weeks and have gotten to know some of them, but I thought the entire evening was fabulous.


So much has happened since I last posted. A dress rehearsal, two performances, two scenes concerts... where to begin.

I'll begin with the sad news that my dear aunt, "Auntie Cyd," passed away on Friday, the 21st at the age of 96. She had been so supportive of both Alex's and my musical aspirations. I'll miss her dearly.

Back to the opera.

I decided to make a true effort to "get over it" and be social. Well well well. It worked. Mostly. There are still one or two women in the chorus who I think are just unhappy people, but otherwise everyone has responded, even if hesitantly at first. Of course, the fact that I brought cookies, a big crossword book and the latest Opera News helped! Another thing that helped is that one of the guys told me about a group on Facebook for the summerfest program. I joined Facebook and joined the group. It's a cool site, much nicer to work with and look at than MySpace. So I've shared my photobucket link and I've sent links to Romeo reviews to one of the members who's been posting them.

Ok so... let's move on to the dress rehearsal. My robe was so long, I was tripping over it as I walked. I don't know how I got out there without dropping Erika (our dead Juliette) to the floor. Somehow I managed. Then when it was time to leave the guys got to her head and started lifting before Rachel and I got to her feet. We scrambled to get our end, meanwhile the shroud slid off in front of me so I tried to catch it, now only holding on with one hand, while also trying not to trip. So I might have stepped on the dress of the woman at the end of the line... sorry about that!

Two days later, on opening night, I found that the costume shop had hemmed the robe. Too much. Now it was above my ankles! Better that than tripping I guess. So after the prologue I went to the costume shop to have it lengthened. Of course no one was there b/c they were all backstage checking everyone as they went on. But eventually I did get it lengthened before my next 5 second appearance to remove the basket.

Sunday the 22nd was the next performance. It was at 2, and Auntie Cyd's funeral was at 2:15, so I was thinking of her as I went on stage.

I brought chocolate chip cookies so after the prologue I put them out in the green room, along with the NY Times crossword book, a cool ball and the latest Opera News. It was actually a lot of fun hanging out with people there. Plus as a bonus this cute 29 year old guy flirted shamelessly with me. Well he flirts with everyone but hey, who cares? He's probably already made his way through the female chorus so he moved on to the supers! Plus he sang a bit of Ecco Ridente... Aye aye aye. He's the one who told me about the Facebook site. If I were, oh, 10 years younger, and single... let's not go there.

Hair, hair, hair. They sewed these loops into the monk hoods and we have to make pin curls in our hair to clip to the loops. Pin curls, I learned, are made by taking a small section of hair, twirling it up and clipping it to the top of the head like Princess Leah (sp?) or something. We're supposed to have the hair people do it but they're always busy doing wigs and makeup for the singers so we're sort of on our own until the last minute, and I do mean last minute. As in, Jenny is giving the "places" call and they're busy redoing our pin curls! So Sunday I did Cathy's hair. In addition to the pin curls we have to have buns. So we sit around twirling and pinning each other's hair. Then, about 5 minutes before the curtain call we were told that we could have our hoods off, so we had this frantic minute of undoing and fluffing out our hair so it looked presentable on stage! It was fun. Rachel ended up keeping hers in a ponytail, and Sharron decided not to go out. Cathy and I had our hair loose. I wonder if the audience was surprised to see three women there as the monks?

We got comp tickets for both scenes concerts. Last week I brought Denise. It was great fun except that she spoke between every performer, usually to ask, "Is HE in Romeo?" "Is SHE in Romeo?" in spite of the fact that I told her that everyone is in all three operas. The performance was great!

Then yesterday I got three tickets so I gave them to Jean and she brought her son along. The show was fabulous. I wrote up my impressions and emailed them to Patricia for the njot blog. I'll post them here too. After the show I was walking out with Jean and Nick and then told her that I wanted to see if anyone I knew was hanging around, so they left. I peeked in near the stage door but didn't see anyone so I went downstairs to leave and who was there but my flirty 29 year old friend. I don't think I need to put his name here. If by any chance anyone from the operafest ends up reading this post they'll surely know to whom I'm referring and I'm sure they'll get a kick out of it. Anyway, he was primed for high-level flirting. Downright suggestive. I gave it right back to him, ingeniously including the fact that I'm married whenever possible. We said goodbye, I left and went to the car, and then there he was walking by so I offered him a ride. He accepted. Turns out he was going two blocks away. Duh!

Friday afternoon there's an ice-cream party and I got the ok to bring Alex. Then Saturday afternoon Jim and I go to Magic Flute, and then the final Romeo is that night. I'm sad that it's ending. I wish we had more than three peformances.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

No, I'm not crazy...

So much to report! Had the piano tech and piano dress rehearsals this week.

The tech rehearsal was the first time we rehearsed on the stage. The director had to make a few adjustments to make things fit. Like, the director told the guys in the chorus that they have to move all the way downstage so that we have enough room to get the bier through. More on that later... And now instead of moving downstage, Rachel and I move upstage to the back, otherwise we'd fall into the orchestra pit! I learned a lot of theater lingo and practice. Like, cue lights; they look sort of like traffic lights or those industrial light bulb cage things, and there are different colors for different cues.

Jim dropped Alex off during Friday's rehearsal. At first he was afraid to enter the theater because the entrance was dark, but as soon as he saw those theater seats he wanted to sit in one. And he did. And it promptly folded up on him! It was pretty funny. So I stuck my leg on the end to keep it open, handed him a box of raisins and he sat quietly watching the rehearsal until I realized that when I traded cars with Jim when he dropped Alex off, I left the keys to the car I was now supposed to be driving in my work bag in the car Jim was now driving to Philadelphia in... oops! Luckily he hadn't gotten far so he came back with the keys. Thank goodness for cell phones!

Saturday was the first dress rehearsal. The sleeves of my monk robe hadn't been sewn into cuffs, and they did it then, finishing a few minutes before the rehearsal started. The costume shop was very busy! Someone was doing wigs and hair extensions in one corner, someone else was ironing, sewing machines were whirring and people were hand-sewing things too. In between all that they measured and fixed my sleeves, cut and tied rope around all the monk robes as a belt and were constantly interrupted by cast members stopping in to ask if they looked OK. It was nuts! But my sleeves got fixed and we all got our belts. The hoods are huge. You have to have it just so or it'll flop over your face. Everyone kept telling us that we looked like characters from Star Wars. Actually that was the first (and pretty much only) time the members of the chorus really interacted with any of us.

Which brings me to the subject of my post. I wrote before about the social dynamics at work in the cast. The supers stick with the supers, the chorus sticks together and the principles seem to hang out alone. So on Friday when we were all assembling in the theater, I sat in a row where some chorus members were sitting. Someone in front turned around, I said hello, she turned back without answering. Okay... In the hallways too... I'd say hello... that is, if the person even made eye contact... Some grudgingly replied, most ignored, none smiled. On Saturday I arrived early enough to get coffee at the Wawa. One of the chorus was next to me getting milk and sugar. I smiled and said hello. She gave me this half smile and said hello as if it pained her to do so. Later I was walking behind her from the dressing room to the theater and she dropped one of the doors in my face. Did she not know I was behind her? Was I being too sensitive? Or were the women in the chorus being unfriendly? I asked Cathy, one of the other supers. She said she had noticed it too but like me, wondered if she was imagining it. So we started paying attention, saying hello as we passed them, etc, and almost all snubbed us. A few said hello but none smiled. Strange. Then during the rehearsal, the men didn't move down enough, so the last guy in line was directly in front of me when I had to come out. I managed to squish around. The director wanted to talk to someone about the scene so I asked the guy if he could move down. The woman in front thought I was talking to her and I told her no, she was fine, it was the guys, and I was talking to the guy behind her. She turned to him and said in the most distasteful way, "Ricardo, this person wants to tell you something." It was all I could do not to laugh at the way she said that! Okay... he was nice enough but really it's the first guy in line who wasn't moving down enough, so I told the asst stage manager.

We share a dressing room with the women's chorus, much to their disappointment. There were a few women there when I arrived and no one replied to my hello. In the green room near the dressing room there was a big bag of candy from the night before, with a sign on it saying it was for the supers to thank them for their hard work. I heard one of the women say, "Ugh. It's for the SUPERS."

Now I must point out that not all the chorus members are behaving this way, but most only interact with us if they absolutely have to, and then they make it clear that they'd rather not.
I'm not upset or personally offended since none of them know me. I do feel that their behavior is unprofessional. Funny, since the supers are volunteers and the chorus gets paid. (At least I think they do.) I'll continue to smile and be friendly, and if I keep getting snubbed I just might call someone on it. Just for fun.

The principles, on the other hand... They smile, say hello, hold doors, say "excuse me" and "thank you" and generally behave like normal, friendly people. The director is cool too. He's silly a lot of the time, makes a lot of jokes, even when sort of scolding people about what they're doing, so people can laugh at themselves and not get upset.

So I ask for comments here from theater and opera people: Is this normal behavior for an opera chorus? Is there some sort of pecking order here and supers are at the bottom?

And so not to end on a sour note, I leave you with Juliette's pretty aria before the ball from Friday's rehearsal, in three parts. THIS is why I wanted to be a super!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Can't type in the "title" field. Just as well because I can't think of a good title at the moment.

Had another run-through yesterday. Guess what? I got put into another scene! The director actually remembered my name, which is impressive since there are so many people involved in the production and I've only been to three rehearsals. He decided to have the supers do one of the scene changes, which I think is a cool idea. I've seen it done in other operas and I like how it looks. Definitely better than black-clad stagehands skittering about moving things around in the dark. So now I go on as R&J leave after their wedding. I pile a bunch of odds and ends into a basket and carry the basket off. Two other supers take the table, and Sharron (with 2 Rs) takes the chair. I feel like it's so silly to be excited about this and writing all these minute details, but it's really so much fun.

They went through the sword fight a few times, first as part of the run-through, and then a few times silently while the fencing guy (I assume that's who he was...) gave them tips. It looks like a lot of work! There are tons of people all jumping around, clashing swords and pretending to punch and be punched. One guy had to keep falling down flat on his face each time. Ouch!

It's weird being a super. There's a social dynamic that must occur with any production and we're sort of in our own little universe. Everyone seems very nice but I really haven't interacted with anyone except the other supers. I had one very short conversation with one of the singers yesterday about curly hair because we have similarly textured hair. But then the swordfight got a bit too close and she had to move or get stepped on. The chorus members have been rehearsing together for weeks now and all seem to know each other really well. They drape all over each other when they're not on and have all these different little social groups. Some stay in the room during rehearsal, others move to the green room. And the truth is, as outgoing and friendly (pushy?) as I can be, I'm actually a little intimidated to talk to anyone. What's up with that??

I took a bunch more videos and put them up at Photobucket.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Super R&J Business

I've been to two more rehearsals for Romeo. On Saturday we carried Juliette in and out on that stretcher thing about 5 times. That was a bit much on my arms! But I survived.

Yesterday was the first run-through. Once again it was amazing to hear all the singing! And what was really cool too was that I didn't care that all these extra people were watching. Not that I do anything momentous or requiring any skill, really, but I had no problem taking a deep breath and lapsing into, "Sad, accepting, respectful monk-mode," or, SARMM as I just this moment decided to call it. I hung out for a while after I was done, just to watch. It was such a treat! I wish I understood more French so I could follow the dialogue. I made a bunch of short videos. Here's one where the stretcher, which had been leaned up against the wall, falls, and one of the other supers catches it.

That one and the others are here.

Next time I'll see if someone will take pictures of the super-monks in action.

Road Trip!!! (Air trip actually)

Well well well. Oh dear. I learned something today, something... interesting. Oh yes. I thought I had read somewhere that JDF was playing Almaviva at The Lyric next year, so just for fun I went to their website. And guess who's playing Figaro. I mean, guess!!??

So now... I HAVE to go. There is no "thinking about it, maybe, hmm..." Oh no. I AM GOING. I think I have enough frequent flyer miles to cover the ticket. I just have to wait until Aug 1 when single tickets go on sale to see if I can get a good-ish seat for the night I can go - the only mid-week performance during Spring Break, when Jim will be able to stay home with Alex. I emailed Elizabeth in Seattle to see if she'd be interested in going. Either way, I'm going, even if I'm going alone. I wonder what type of hotels are near the opera house? (And on a related note, I wonder what hotel... never mind, I won't even finish that juvenile thought. At least not here.)

No sore throats allowed this winter, guys!

And of course I'm still going to R&J at the Met this December...

Speaking of R&J... time for a separate post...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ok, I lied...

Remember a few posts back when I wrote that NG shouldn't worry, he's still on the top of my list? We'll he's been lowered to #2. JDF has moved into the #1 spot. Sorry Nathan baby, there are plenty of pretty faces out there but JDF's voice... one of a kind.

Yes, I'm 40. And married. With a child. And behaving like a teenager. At least I don't have any posters up on my walls... although I do have a few choice websites bookmarked.

Anyone who's reading this who hasn't heard JDF (or NG for that matter) should go to my youtube page. NG is featured in most of my posted videos, JDF in most of my favorites. Oh and while you're there check out The Menu Song from The Electric Company. It's great!

Monday, June 25, 2007

I think she's nuts

My future voice teacher sure has lofty goals for me! Now she says I should find out the audition requirements for the opera chorus and we'll have something to aspire to. I think she's nuts.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Super Duper

Whew. Lots has happened since I last posted.

First the annoying stuff. I went back to the massage place to deliver the earrings and pick up the contract and the woman had to run into an emergency meeting... I called a couple of times, she was never there, she never returned my calls. Finally she was there but on another line. I was put on hold. Then the same person who answered the phone came back and said, "Robin's really swamped right now and she just can't take on any new product at the moment. Can you come back next month?" I was a little miffed, to say the least, since she had agreed to sell my stuff, we agreed on an asking price and the percentages. I'm also annoyed b/c I purchased a 6 month membership sort of because she agreed to sell my earrings. At least that'll force me to go back. However I have lost respect for her. She and I had an agreement and she had one of her employees tell me she changed her mind. Very uncool.

Okaaaay. Onto the good stuff! I went to the rehearsal this morning for Romeo and Juliet and I'm in as a super! I'm going to be a monk. (Ok stop laughing now, especially those of you who know that I was a nun in my high-school's production of The Sound of Music!) So the opera starts out with a the chorus and a monk lamenting the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet. The monks (hey, that's me in that brown robe!) bring them in on pallets. I'm one of the 4 who carry Juliet. It's a dancer double, not the opera singer. She's still pretty heavy to carry though. So I'm in the front, near her feet. We bring her on stage and stop at an angle. The 4 other monks come in from the other side with Romeo. The friar sings his piece, uncovering each face, then we straighten out and place the pallets down. The monks near the front of the pallet (hey, that's me!) cross over to the front side of the stage while the friar does his thing (he wasn't there so I'm not quite sure what that is...) and then we come back and carry them out. And that's it, I'm done, as far as I know. We rehearsed with the chorus after lunch and that was awesome. They sound amazing.

After the rehearsal we went to the costume dept to get fitted into our robes. Mine was too long of course, but the sleeves were too short. The costume dept is quite a scene - costumes stuffed onto racks everywhere, and desks with sewing machines crammed in between.

On one of the days we're going to see Die Zauberflote at 1pm and then I'm in Romeo that night at 8! A long day at the theater!

On another note, my obsession with Juan Diego Florez continues. I cannot get enough of his voice. It's like velvet. It's like flowing water. It's nothing I've ever heard before. I can't explain what it does to me. Sometimes I'm moved almost to tears, other times I feel like I'm melting into a puddle. Amazing. I think about how many people DON'T know about him and feel sad for them. How weird is that?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Links to Barbiere Videos

Looks like someone managed to burn a DVD of the PBS broadcast of Barbiere and they've been posting snippets on YouTube. Like this one: Una Voce Poco Fa and this.

I'm sure I already posted that I signed up for singing lessons. My voice teacher assures me that I'll be singing Una Voce very soon. At first I thought she was nuts, but then I realized that except for some of the individual singers' crazy improvisations, I actually can reach all the notes. So I guess anything's possible...

Friday, June 8, 2007

"It's Orgasmic!"

The other day I brought the Barbiere videotape to work and had Denise meet me in the little library where we have a tv/vcr combo thing. I popped in the tape and played Count Almaviva's final, outstanding, mind-blowing aria. I've seen it several times already and I'm still blown away every time. So we're both sitting there gaping at Juan D.F. on the tv and Denise utters, "It's orgasmic." That says it all!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

On My Way, Part 2

Well I did it - I signed up for voice lessons with Alex's music teacher at Westminster Conservatory. I have a feeling I'm going to be insufferable to live with for the next several months!

On a related note, when I brought my earrings to the massage place, the owner had to run into a meeting and said she'd call me. I've left her one message since then... I'll be calling her again tomorrow.

Today I requested a bunch of Schubert "lieder" CDs from the library. Now if I only knew how to pronounce "lieder."

Yesterday was Alex's 3rd birthday. We were watching Barbiere and I asked him what the style of singing was. He said it was coloratura, then said that it was jumpy. Today we met Denise after work and he told her that coloratura has lots and lots of notes. It's fascinating to hear how a child describes things! Jumpy!


Hi, My name is Susan and I'm an operaholic. It started simply enough. I thought I could control it. I thought, sure, I can just listen to just one aria. But then I needed to hear another by the same singer, or a different version of the same aria by the same singer, and soon it spiraled out of my control and I needed to hear different singers performing it. This spread to entire operas. What version should I listen to, I wondered? I know, all of them! I just can't stop. I'm reading about operas, reading and listening to interviews with singers, directors, conductors, getting different versions from the library, reading librettos, comparing translations, reading reviews, reading the histories of different opera houses, learning about different composers... I just can't stop. And then there's YouTube. Need I say more?

So my latest particular obsession is a tenor named Juan Diego Florez. (Don't worry Nathan Gunn, you're still at the top of my list.) JDF doesn't have the looks and I have no idea about his physique as directors aren't as inclined to undress him as they are with NG. But that voice... to quote someone else's comment on a YouTube video, there are no words to describe such beauty. Will I ever get tired of listening to this? I would do anything this man asked me to do if he sang it to me. Anything. So Juan Diego, if you're out there, take notice. Yikes does that make me an opera groupie?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

On My Way!

Whoo hoo! Massage Envy in Lawrenceville will be displaying some of my earrings for sale! Voice lessons and Metropolitan Opera, here I come! Denise already assumes I'm coming to Barber of Seville next spring when she goes with her class. One opera at a time! Let's raise the money for R&J first...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Earrings for Sale!

Thought I'd post pictures of some of my earrings, since they're helping me get to the opera and pay for singing lessons. (If I can stop buying beads on ebay, that is...)

Here they are:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This and That

Saw Barbiere again in the movies with Shannon. It was her first opera, I think. She really enjoyed it. How can you not? I was still blown away by Juan Diego Florez. The entire cast was excellent. I got home after 10 and had trouble sleeping. More evidence that opera is keeping me awake? The music was still going through my head when I woke up this morning.

Sold a 4 pairs of earrings at work this week for a total of $87. I have an appointment to show my earrings at the spa next week. I'm pretty sure she's going to take some of my earrings on consignment so hopefully not only will the opera be "financed," but so will my voice lessons.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Opera Fund

So it begins. I'm going to see Romeo et Juliet on December 12 at the Met. Perhaps I already posted about it... I can't remember right now. It'll cost upwards of $200 for the ticket, transportation, food etc. In order to assuage any guilt I may have at spending $200 for one night's entertainment, I have established a mental "opera fund." I started with a weight-loss challenge with the moms' club. Six of us each paid $25. We weighed in every week for 8 weeks, gave each other tips for diet and exercise and generally supported one-another in our weight-loss endeavor. The person who lost the largest % of her body weight would win all the money. I knew I had an advantage because I started out smaller than all the other women in the challenge. I ended up losing 11 lbs in 8 weeks, which came to about 8% of my body weight, and I won the challenge! That $125 is a great chunk to start off with! Plus as an added bonus I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight, although for some reason my pre-preg clothes don't all fit... which leads to my next opera-related expense: A new outfit to wear! So I'm going into high gear selling earrings. I'm going to a local spa next week to show them what I have. Hopefully they'll sell my earrings on consignment. I'm also selling off lots of vintage jewelry, beads and findings on Ebay. Once I reach $200 profit I'll close my mental account.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Tenors Make More Money!

Yes, yes, two posts in one day.

Saturday we went to a street fair in Princeton. All sorts of organizations were there, including the New Jersey Opera Theater. They had a trunk full of costumes for the kids to try on and get photographed. We were talking to one of the women and of course Alex clammed up and would talk, so I told her that he wants to be an opera singer and how he's drawn to the baritone parts. She leaned in and said in a conspiratorial stage-whisper, "Be a tenor- tenors make more money!"

A Burning Desire

Have I mentioned that Alex's music teacher is a former professional opera singer? That's not exactly relevant except that this is a blog about opera... of course she's thrilled by Alex's career aspirations. Anyway last week I wasn't feeling well so Jim brought Alex to music class. It's the first time I've missed a class since he started, except for when we went to Florida. She informed Jim that she'll be giving private singing lessons at Westminster next semester and she thinks I should sign up because she can tell that I've got "the desire to sing burning inside me," or something like that. She said it again to me this past week. So is she a mind reader or what? I asked her how she could tell and she said she just can. Hm. I've wanted to take singing lessons all my life. I know full well that I have no opera potential, no matter what fantasies I might harbor... I have a decent voice and can carry a tune, but I want to improve my range, ie, become more of a soprano. I even mentioned my (burning) desire to Denise a few weeks ago and she gave me some advice about finding a teacher. It was just funny that Alex's teacher said that, because she's right! So now I have to decide... a trip to the Met to see Romeo and Juliet, or a semester or two of voice lessons? Or... do both, and then have rice and beans, no new clothes and no eating out for, well, the rest of my life? That sounds OK to me!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Recitals, Barbers and Romeo

So it's been a while but I'm back. We did attend the recital on the 15th. It was good! And amazingly, Alex sat and watched for the entire first half. He had great fun applauding after each singer too.

The Met is having an encore broadcast of Barber of Seville. I posted to the mom's group to see if anyone would like to have a "Mom's Night Out" and got one taker- Shannon. So in May we'll be off to the movies!

Denise will be teaching an opera class about Romeo and Juliet this fall at the Princeton Adult School. To culminate the class they go see the opera at the Met. She's going to include me in the emails so I can join them if I want. I'll start saving my pennies now! Finally a chance not only to go to the Met with friends, but also to see Nathan Gunn live! Oh yeah and Anna Netrebko (probably spelled wrong...). Then two days later I'll see it again in the movie broadcast.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Post Office Recital

Yesterday as we went into the post office Alex began to sing Papageno's Birdcatcher Aria. There were a few people inside but of course no one was talking. His voice echoed throughout the room. One woman who had been preparing something to mail got in line behind us. She recognized what he was singing and asked him if he could do "Queen of the Night." He just launched right into it! It was pretty cool. So of course I asked him what he wants to be when he grows up (see video in prior post). She asked him what other operas he likes. I had to prompt him but he said he likes Figaro in Barber of Seville because "...he's a baritone." Too bad he can't decide now what voice he'll have later. Not that I expect him to become an opera singer, but I'll certainly encourage whatever interest he shows!

Sunday we're going to this:

Come see NJ Opera's Young Artists perform in a free concert this Sunday, April 15 at 3pmVoorhees Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick. These young singers will perform beloved opera favorites such as "Una Voce poco fa" from The Barber of SevilleDon Giovanni (Mozart) and the "Card Trio" from Carmen (Bizet). They will also perform opera rarities such as "O Lisbonoa, alfin ti moro" from Don Sebastiano (Donizetti) and "Sibilar gli angui d'Aletto" from Rinaldo (Handel).

The concert is free with $3 admission to the Zimmerli Museum (waived for Rutgers students and staff and for museum members).

Or as Alex calls it, People Singing in the Museum.

Now if only they would contact me to be a super in one of their upcoming shows!

Friday, April 6, 2007


So cool... Alex has really begun to imitate the opera we listen to. Of course Magic Flute... of course Papageno... I have to get a video up here somehow of him totally imitating Papageno's countdown when he's hoping Papagena will show up. "How 'bout I count from one to three..."
He imitates Nathan Gunn's intonation perfectly, the way he's all hopeful on "one," singsong on "two" and sad and downtrodden on "three." He imitates the sound but does his own "acting" or whatever you'd call it- he looks around like he's looking for her in between "two" and "three." It's great! He's learning more and more of the words in both English and German.

We've been watching the Barber DVD a little. He likes the scene where the musicians are asking to get paid and thanking the Count and saying what a great guy he is, getting louder and louder, while the Count keeps saying, "Basta, basta!" Enough, enough! Be quiet! I quite like it too!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

More Barber

Not yet... but Denise has a DVD from I-don't-know-when and she loaned it to Jean. Jean finished watching it and loaned it to me yesterday. I forgot I had it until today, then Alex kept getting out of bed after we put him to bed for the night, so long story short I haven't watched it yet. Now I'm shooting for tomorrow.

And while I'm on the subject, I still need to get my hair trimmed.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

An Interesting Observation ("ear"servation?)

Sometimes I ask Alex, "Can you do that?" when we're listening to music, to see if he can hit the notes or add vibrato or whatever. He usually ignores me. The other day he was singing the Pa-Pa-Pa duet. He always sings both parts. So anyway he was playing and singing and he sounded exactly like Jennifer Aylmer when he sang, "...the greatest happiness is many." I mean EXACTLY! He imitated her voice and intonation. The line goes across her break, or whatever you call it, between high and middle range, and he repeated it perfectly. It was so cool!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Doubtful Conversion

I have a close friend who claims to hate opera. All of it. She says she was "subjected" to it as a child, and that no child should be forced to hear it. I feel that it's impossible to hate an entire genre of music when the styles within the genre can vary greatly. She said that she and her husband just don't like it. I replied that there are many kinds, and that I like Mozart, especially the comedies. Her reply:

I might like Mozart. I just detest the Italian operas that my family loves. Torture to a child's ear, at least my ears.

I refrained from pointing out that Mozart wrote many Italian Operas. I also didn't mention the obvious - that I heard it constantly as a child and didn't feel tortured, and that Alex asks for it. I assume she was forced to hear those weird screechy Puccini operas. So I sent her a selection from Magic Flute, in German, of when Papageno and Pamina are sneaking out of the temple, and then Monostatos catches them, he plays the bells and the bad guys dance away. I explained the story and what was going on for each section of the music. Her reply:

I listened, I just hate opera style singing. I love Mozart's music, opera just isn't for me. I think the performers have amazing talent, I just don't like it.

Today she came to visit so I put on the English Magic Flute DVD. Alex "let" us watch the overture through the birdcatcher song, then we had to skip to the humming, then all the way to the end to what he calls "The Sad Part," when Papageno is looking for Papagena. She watched, sort of, but then Jim came in chatting about nothing and I had to tell him to leave - she was easily distracted from the screen. That really annoyed me for some reason. I get very focused when I watch and/or listen. I can't half-listen, even if I'm very familiar with it. Anyway, she agreed that this one opera was humorous and very melodious. I practically shouted, "Almost all of Mozart's operas are like this!" but I just said it calmly. For all I know she was saying it to shut me up stop me from playing more.

So I know I've read this in other places, but now I see it's true. You either get it or you don't. If you don't get it, you have no tolerance for it. And that's a damn shame because she's missing out on some beautiful and moving experiences.

She reminded me of a friend from high school who told me she hated the Beatles. How can you hate the Beatles? Their music is so varied. I can understand not liking some of their music, but how can you hate their entire body of work? That would mean that you'd hate a lot of the pop music that came after them, and she was a big music fan. I think she was just being contrary, because she liked to shock people. I mean, it's practically blasphemy to say you hate the Beatles! And being a huge Beatles fan myself, and your typically earnest "Dawson's Creek" type of teenager, I was appalled!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'd rather be sleeping...another Alex-esque post.

Trying to get Alex to listen to anything other than Magic Flute is proving to be a challenge. I'm hoping that once PBS broadcasts Barber of Seville he'll be interested in that, although there's no character as kid-friendly as Papageno. I've been playing a couple of arias to prep him.

He does like some of the arias on this double CD, "The Greatest Mozart Show on Earth." He sometimes asks to hear the Champagne Aria from Don Giovanni. Today I printed out the lyrics and translation. All I can say is, it's a good thing Alex doesn't speak Italian (yet) and that it's sung so fast you can't really hear the words! But usually he wants Magic Flute. The other day I was humming a bit of when Papageno and Pamina are sneaking away and he said, "No mommy, it's shtila shtila shtila." (I'm fully aware that I spelled that wrong - I'm going for the pronunciation.) Anyway at first I didn't know what he was talking about, then we later listened and I realized he was quoting the German for the part I was humming. Zoinks!

On another note, last week I sent a package to the woman who sent me the MF DVD as a thank you. I sent two pairs of earrings, three cds and the lyrics to Beethoven's Wig. I sent it first class mail over a week ago and she still hasn't gotten it! It was supposed to take 2-3 days. Very frustrating. I'm going to send her a new one as soon as I get some blank cds.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Barber in the movies- WOW!

Saw Barbiere di Seviglia in the movies today.

I loved it!! The singing was phenomenal. The Count- Oh my god- he had one aria near the end that stopped the show. Rosina- beautiful! What a voice! Figaro was perfect- all confident and laid back. And how can I not mention the supers? I kept an eye out for them and I didn't have to look hard! Figaro's entrance was on the top of a carriage-like cart. There was a woman up there with him, and several were pushing the cart. They were all over him like a harem! I could so totally do that. (Especially with a different Figaro, not that there was anything wrong with the guy who played him, but I have a certain person in mind.) And since Alex is still nursing, I still have the uh, the ability to fill out the dress. There was one scene where a cabinet in the cart opened to reveal two women getting a bit friendly with each other! And Figaro was right in there like, "Check this out! This IS the life!" The whole thing was zany, as it should be. The performers all had such great rapport- it was just great. I probably won't be writing any letters to any of the cast members though.

The supers had a lot of stage time. I so want to do that!!!

I'll probably have more to write about the opera itself tomorrow, after I've slept on it.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Fantasy

OK, don't get all excited about the title. It's not THAT kind of fantasy. Not to say that I don't have bizarre opera-related fantasies, but that's for another forum.

No, no, no. The fantasy to which I'm referring has to do with... the opera. Wow, big surprise! But wait, didn't I just say... but this one isn't bizarre. At least not like that. No, I got the schedule book and ticket order form from the Met today. I went through and picked out which subscriptions I'd love to buy. Technically I could afford a 6 or 7 show weekday subscription up up up in the Family Circle, but then factoring in the train fare, food (and of course the new clothes I'd have to buy!) etc, it's just out of my range. And we're only talking about 1 ticket per show, so I'd be going alone. Alone to the opera yet again? No, because it's just my fantasy. So while we're fantasizing, how about the $12,000 8 person box for New Years Eve, including a cast dance and dinner after the show? The show, which happens to be Romeo and Juliet - Don't need to mention what baritone has a part, do I? While we're still in fantasy land... no no no. Reality keeps butting in! "Remember the last time you mingled with an opera cast after a show?" it points out. "You weren't even interested in meeting the performers, but you couldn't help but notice that most of the people there seemed to know them personally - all that hugging and kissing going on. So do you think you'd ever get near... anyone... at an event at the Met?" OK, Reality, get outta my way! You're ruining my fantasy. OK, 8 seats. Who would I invite? I can barely find 1 person to go with me, how would I find 7??? Although for an event like this perhaps people's schedules would clear. And of course, there's the matter of staying awake that late. So the show ends, the dinner dance begins. What am I wearing? Luckily this particular fantasy includes one of those all-expense paid makeovers, including an appropriate dress with all the accessories, and hey, why not, a massage that afternoon.

OK, back to Reality. There is a matinee of Romeo and Juliet on our wedding anniversary but Jim was reluctant. I'm sure that if it were a homebrew festival or an XTC concert we'd already have the tickets... Another option is the $20 orchestra tickets that are sold starting 2 hours before the performance, Monday through Thursdays. There are only 200 per show. I wonder what time people start lining up?

So it looks like my Met opera attendance will be at the movies only this coming season, barring a financial windfall or other miraculous event. Luckily the NJ Opera Theater is about half the price and only 20 minutes away. And if I get to be a super in an upcoming show, now how cool would that be? If only... no, it'll never happen so I won't even write it.